November 2006 Postcard

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U.S. aid to other countries often is tied to various conditions, depending on what the U.S. wants the recipient to do in return for American taxpayers’ dollars. I am asking that aid to Israel be treated in the same manner.

Until Israel ends its 39-year occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as well as Syrian and Lebanese territory, I urge the U.S. government to suspend aid to Israel. At the very least U.S. aid should be withheld until Israel re-engages in serious peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel’s military actions this year have destroyed lives and infrastucture in both Lebanon and Gaza. President George W. Bush has promised only $230 million in aid to Lebanon—of which about $60 million already has been allocated—and $150 million for development in the West Bank and Gaza.

In a just world, U.S. aid would go to the victims of Israeli attacks, instead of the aggressors. Our country’s reputation would vastly improve if our actions matched our values. 

altA Palestinian sits amid the rubble of her home, destroyed by Israeli special forces, helicopter gunships and tanks, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Sept. 2, 2006 (AFP photo/Mahmud Hams)

In November the Senate and House will approve $2.46 billion in 2007 foreign assistance to Israel—the largest sum given any country—comprising $2.34 billion in military and $120 million in economic aid. Congress also approved an additional $40 million to help Israel absorb new immigrants—many of whom will live in illegal settlements Israel continues to build on occupied Palestinian land.

Congress has mandated that U.S. economic and military aid to Israel be transferred in one lump sum, within one month of the new fiscal year or the passage of the appropriation act. Israel is thereby able to collect more than $50 million in interest.

Yet Israel’s per capita income is as high as in many European countries, and the Israeli government finished the first half of 2006 with a budget surplus of more than one billion dollars!

Why give Israel so much aid?